Witcover: Trump's tweets raise questions about his mental state
Jul 07, 2017 at 6:00 AM
In a series of tweets on Thursday morning, President Donald Trump ridiculed the looks and temperament of "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski. (June 29, 2017)
During the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein unearthed Richard Nixon's cover-up of his criminal activities, compared the revealing White House tapes to the old advertising slogan: "The gift that keeps on giving."
The same can be said today about Donald Trump's ranting tweets, which unmask him as a bitter, small-minded, narcissistic and misogynistic liar. Nixon's own words on the tapes brought him to the brink of impeachment, which he avoided by resigning.
In any event, his own jolting profanity was uttered in private conversation with his underlings. Mr. Trump's malign utterances have been offered openly, in rallies and other personal appearances, as well as in those revolting tweets.
Nevertheless, whether Nixon's eventual fate awaits Mr. Trump is mostly wishful thinking right now for his sharpest critics, although he may be susceptible to the charge that nailed Nixon: obstruction of justice.
Mr. Trump's latest slanderous assaults against co-host Mika Brzezinskion MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show probably alone would not qualify as an impeachable offense. But the pattern of Mr. Trump's slings and reported actions against women clings to him as he erratically seeks to navigate the unfamiliar waters of governing a huge and great country.
...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
In a bizarre circumstance, Trump has dusted off his war on women at precisely the time his Republican Party is laboring to repeal and replace Obamacare in the Senate. There, at least three female GOP members — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Susan Collins of Maine — have said they will hold back their votes.
The phenomenon is a revealing example of how Mr. Trump's personal petulance can be in conflict with his stated political goals as the leader of his party. Beyond that, his crass and offensive language displays a jarring contempt not only for women but for the highest office all voting Americans can be bestow on a fellow citizen.
The latest incident has also brought to the fore concerns over Mr. Trump's temperament and mental stability. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution stipulates that a president can be impeached and convicted only for "Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors."
However, the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, provides that "whenever the Vice President and a majority of either of the principal officers of the executive departments of such body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President."
Currently, the Senate president pro tem is veteran Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and the House speaker is Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Both have been pliable allies of Mr. Trump so far, although Mr. Ryan did allow himself utterance of discomfort in Mr. Trump's Twitter torching of Mika Brzezinski.
The 25th Amendment also provides, however, that the president can reclaim the office by informing the two congressional leaders in writing that that no inability of the elected incumbent to serve exists any longer. If disputed by them, Congress would then convene and decide by a two-thirds vote whether the president would resume office or the vice president would continue as acting president.
President Donald Trump's recent Cabinet meeting seemed like his own staging of "King Lear," as his subordinates heaped praise onto him.
By Alexandra Petri
Jun 13, 2017 at 1:10 PM
Such a scenario unfolding would seem most unlikely, especially in light of the recently staged and televised gathering of the Trump cabinet. Each member in turn, with Mr. Trump present bearing a self-satisfied grin, fulsomely recited his or her heartfelt appreciation at being honored to serve under the president.
Republican leaders' continued willingness to swallow this president's own willful disparagement of women — and for that matter of the American press corps that labors to inform the public of all personal and presidential news regarding this most unorthodox chief executive — augurs little change in Trump's behavior in the months ahead.
Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.